Monday, August 24, 2009

Memo to "sky is falling" meteorologists

Ah, it had been such a peaceful summer without any tropical activity. No crawls, no annoying squeezebacks every ten minutes, no break-ins to regular programming with urgent news about a storm that is five days away.

Then, of course, things began to heat up, and as usual, some local stations can't help but go into "Chicken Little" mode.

It's one thing when your market is about to get seriously whacked by a hurricane. But when something is either days away or not a serious threat, the constant weather interruptions do nothing but annoy viewers and get them to change the channel. Here's a newsflash... viewers can read. A simple crawl every thirty minutes with coordinates of a storm that is days away is just fine.

And please, tone down the ear-splitting beacons that precede a crawl or a squeezeback. They totally drown out the show we happen to be watching. Once again, we can read.

Meanwhile, time for another warning that hurricanes are no time to prove your bravery (or stupidity) out there. I can't help but laugh at reporters who do standups telling people to "stay in their homes" while said reporter is out getting pelted by rain. One of the biggest dangers in hurricanes comes from flying debris. Think a two-by-four off the side of your head would feel good? You can still get plenty of good video by using windbreaks and shooting under cover.

So the words for this hurricane season are moderation and common sense. Weather people, remember that programming pays the bills at your station. And reporters, note that if you're dead you won't be able to put together a good resume tape.

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